Think Indigenous Online Classroom filling the void
- John Lagimodiere | April 15, 2020
Chris Scribe is an educator and he’s not going to let a pandemic interrupt his passion, nor the opportunity for children to learn. That’s why, the day after the schools closed, he wasted no time in creating the Facebook page, Think Indigenous-Online Indigenous Education K-8.
“The idea was sparked from a conversation with my partner Natashia Ouellette, who was concerned with all the schools closing their doors during this pandemic. It got me thinking, what if we created an online space for teachers to volunteer their time to help parents and community extend their learning into their homes, through social media,” said Scribe in a Facebook interview. “This is what sparked the online learning classroom through Think Indigenous. I wrote a status on the Monday schools were closed and on Tuesday we started teaching.”
The online version offers a variety of courses. Scribe asked the instructors to incorporate Indigenous Knowledge into their teaching.
“As Indigenous teachers, connecting Indigenous knowledge to curriculum is something we do without even knowing. These online lessons have hit so many outcomes and indicators and transcends borders,” said Scribe. “Getting volunteers was easy, because of the amazing network of educators, with school closures, teachers were looking for ways to support our children.”
K-8 Lessons are scheduled Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with Indigenous Knowledge sharing on Tuesday and Thursday. The lessons have proven to be very popular. They already have 9,300 followers on Facebook and, according to their analytics, they have reached over 125,000 people.
Chris Scribe is the perfect person to pull this together. A Nakoda-Cree from Norway House MB and Carry the Kettle SK, he is the Executive Director of Think Indigenous Events Inc. and the Director of Indian Teacher Education Program at the University of Saskatchewan. Teaching since 2005, he has taught internationally in Australia, in First Nation communities, and with the Province, including every grade from 2 - 12, was a special education teacher, vice-principal, and principal.
His wide array of contacts of teachers and cultural leaders are now filling the airwaves with lessons and they have people tuning in from around the world.
“Curtis Vinish, a recent SUNTEP grad has also been working behind the scenes supporting this work and without him and the many other volunteers, this would not be possible,” added Scribe. “The feedback from parents and students has been amazing. We get messaged from a global audience with people expressing their gratitude and appreciation for the lessons.”
Once grateful mother wrote: “Love this so much. I appreciate the tips and indigenous teachings. I’m an adoptive mom that’s always looking for cultural resources to show my daughter. Thanks for this group.”
In this trying time of fear and closure, the online offering of education serves an important void and keeps the teachings alive and gives the children resources. But to Scribe, it is what they must do. “As Indigenous educators, it is our responsibility to share knowledge with our children. This work is simply an extension of that responsibility. Creating small steps toward decolonization for Indigenous children and creating stronger relationships (and) understanding with non-indigenous students is the power of education and this online classroom has given us a global platform to do just that,” said Scribe. “The silver lining to this pandemic is that through the beauty of humanity, we have created a platform to support each other.”